Counterterrorism incorporates strategies from a variety of governmental, intergovernmental, and non-governmental agencies and organizations to prevent and combat terrorism. These strategies may include international military action, domestic police action, legislation, surveillance, programming, research and analysis, and a variety of other approaches.
Most countries have several security agencies with the authority to combat terrorism. The United States’ CIA, FBI, State Department, and Department of Homeland Security, for example, all hold various counterterrorism responsibilities. These agencies work to thwart and combat terrorist threats through preventative measures including physical security apparatuses, screening, and surveillance, as well as neutralization measures such as arrests, prosecutions, raids, and military action.
In addition to utilizing security agencies in the fight against terrorism, some countries have established multifaceted, soft-power programs and approaches. The United States’ Countering Violence Extremism (CVE) method, for example, is designed to address the root causes of terrorism by empowering communities to build local prevention efforts. Other prominent soft-power counterterrorism approaches adopted by international governments include Canada’s “Building Resilience against Terrorism” and the United Kingdom’s “Prevent.”
Intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also play an important role in the field of counterterrorism. The United Nations, for example, launched the UNSC Counter-Terrorism Committee following al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks in order to facilitate counterterrorism technical assistance to U.N. Member States. NATO has contributed troops to national counterterrorism strategies worldwide, and has helped to enhance intelligence exchange between countries by developing relevant technological solutions. In January 2016, EUROPOL formed the European Counter Terrorism Centre to strengthen EU defenses against growing threats posed by ISIS and other international terrorist groups. NGOs have also played a significant role in providing pertinent research and analysis, exposing terrorists’ financial networks, advocating stronger counterterrorism legislation, and shaping the national conversation on terrorism and counterterrorism.